Though Moroccan is known for its cuisine, it’s not known for its vegan variety. And I can safely say…it’s not because its’ not yet discovered. Traveling as a vegan in Morocco, to say politely, is challenging. Thats not to say you can’t enjoy Morocco! Finding Moroccan vegan food isn’t impossible, but you will be eating a lot of tajine…..so much, in fact, it might become a dirty word to you.
Table of contents
Vegan Food in Morocco
Common Foods include a lot of meat….and a lot of gluten and sugar. I blame the lack of plant protein on this short anecdote:
Did you know that 1 kilo is in fat 2.2 lbs, and not, as I confidently snapped at Brandon, a half lb? Congratulations. You now know the story of how Brandon and Cassy ended up with 4.5lbs, or $23 dollars worth of almonds and sesame peanuts.
Spoiler alert: we ate them all.
There is a lack of plant-based protein in most prepared meals that we found, especially on our desert road trip. I would highly suggest stocking up on protein-based snacks at the markets.
Common Typical Moroccan Foods
Listed below are any and all typical Moroccan foods that I ran into during my 6 week trip through this gorgeous country:
I hope no one reading this is gluten-free…because breakfast in Morocco is not going to be easy. I had to relax my dietary concerns here and allow for bread back into my diet….because there isn’t much else to eat, unless you shop for yourself at the grocery stores. Bread is a…rather, THE cornerstone of Moroccan cuisine.
Breakfast includes no less than 3 types of bread, including corn bread, spongy pancakes, croissants, crepes, baguettes, and other goodies.
|Baghrir||Moroccan Pancakes, cooked on one side only. Spongy, with tiny holes all over. Made with yeast, warm water and flour|
|Meloui||Another type of pancake- made with a higher ratio of semolina powder.|
|Msemen||Square pancakes/crepes rolled and sometimes dusted with cinnamon. Semonlina is used, no egg added!|
|Amlou||Amlou is a mix of argan oil, almond butter and sometimes iwth added sugar|
|Harcha||Fried semolina pancakes (taste like cornbread)|
|Cafe Noir/ Americano||Black Coffee|
|Té||Moroccan mint & green tea…usually loaded down with sugar|
Moroccan Mains (Lunch/Dinner)
There are a few good restaurants in some of the larger cities that cater to vegan travelers, but while exploring the countryside, you might be hard pressed to find something beyond a vegetarian tajine. You might as well accept that you’ll eat an ungodly amount of vegetable tajine. Its delicious….until about the 18th time you’ve enjoyed it in a row. I was beginning to wonder who’s mother I’d cursed in order to endure such a privilege.
|Vegetable Tajine/ Tajine des légumes/ |
|A Tajine is a conical instrument for cooking. It’s an oily piping hot stack of mixed vegetables served with bread|
|Couscous||Vegetarian couscous….same veggies as above, but over couscous……served with Khobz (bread)|
There weren’t many options for us veg-heads, so I often loaded up on side dishes, or as mentioned above, hard-core snacked on nuts and fruits!
Moroccan Side Dishes
|Libya / Loubia||White beans cooked in tomato sauce|
|Chickpeas||in a tumeric sauce, fresh from over the fire|
|Lentils/ Lentejas||cooked usually with tomatoes|
|Lentil soup||same as above, rarely found|
|Harira||tomato-based soup with chickpeas, sometimes with noodles|
|Shakshouka Taktouka||Grilled tomato and green pepper salad|
|Zaalouk||Cooked mixture of eggplant and tomatoes|
|B’ssara||Blended bean soup with spices|
Juice bars are super popular here. I spent a majority of my free time lounging in one…..don’t tell anyone, but the Moroccans have perfected juice. I’m a sucker for an Avocado-Orange juice.
|Avocado + Oj||Like a vegan creamsicle…but better|
|Roasted Sesame Peanuts||sugar coated peanuts with sesame seeds. as addict|
|Almonds & Other nuts||You can hand a vendor a 10Dh coin ($1 USD) and receive a conical -folded paper filled with your choice of nuts|
|Seffa||Sweet couscous made with cinnamon, sugar, and sometimes studded with prunes, raisins and almonds|
|Cinnamon orange||sliced oranges with cinnamon dust|
|Maamouls||stuffed pastries with sugar and nuts|
Moroccan Market Foods
Though the Medinas are an overload to the senses with all of their lovely silver and gold, their beautiful kaftans and sparkly shoes, I saw just as many lamb heads, caged and freshly diseased chickens, and lots of street animals eating at the parts leftover. You’re going to need a thick skin to get through some of the areas.
Back in the early ’50’s Morocco invested in its agricultural development. While neighboring Algeria focused on fuel and other countries in Northern Africa diversified their economies, Morocco decided to focus their efforts on food production. As you travel through small countryside towns, you might notice that they are named peculiarly. Thats because each town is named after its market day. So one might be called “Saturday market town” and the next down the road, “Sunday market town”. These large markets will have spices, animals, clothing, food and pretty much anything else a person could think of.
You can easily purchase fresh fruit and vegetables everyday, but please make sure to wash them free of pesticides before consumption.
Inside the markets there are bulk bins full of lentils, beans, popcorn, rice and other dry goods. I’ve noticed that some of the packaged rice contains dead bugs- but the bulk bins didn’t seem to!
All the more reason to travel with cotton bags and go zero waste!
Useful Phrases to know
Moroccans are natural linguists. A lot of children are taught both Arabic and French from birth, and the elite and middle class are sent to American language schools in the big city to study English and sometimes Spanish.
I’ve met tour guides, wait staff, and hotel owners that know upwards of 6 languages, including the Asianic variety.
Moroccan Arabic is quite a bit different than Egyptian, Iraqi or Iranian Arabic. I’ve been told, and read articles, about it the dialect differentiating within Morocco as well.
There are some interviews on Youtube where the Moroccan interviewee’s mix French and Arabic in the same sentence, and its not uncommon for a few Spanish words to be thrown in as well. (For example, the word semana, or “week” in Spanish, is used in Morocco)
That being said, it’s great to have a few phrases in both French and Moroccan Arabic, and if all else fails, use English or Spanish to get your point across. Hopefully this table helps:
|La / Shokran||No / thank you|
|La hleeb||No milk|
|La lhem||No meat|
|bgheet||I want/ I like|
Here are some useful phrases in french as well:
|Je suis allergique a…||I am allergic to:|
|je suis végétarien||I am vegetarian/vegan|
|Je ne mange pas…||I do not eat…|
|shellfish||fruits de mer|
Restaurants by City
Most places will have either veggie tajine or veggie couscous. I have listed restaurants below that I found to have something OTHER than those 2 options.
I made my favorites bold.
If you are headed through Casablanca, check out my Insiders guide.
|Asilah||-Pyramid Cafe (had a vegan paella)|
|Azrou||-Hotel Ferme d’hôte la vallée had the best vegan dinner|
|Casablanca||-La Squala (had some veggie breakfast options) |
-India Palace (great daal)
-Veggie (all vegan, a little pricey)
–Bondi Cafe (great tumeric latte!)
|Chefchaouen||–Bab Ssour (Best mushroom soup!!)|
-Kitchen Alhambra (You actually sit @ a different restaurant, she cooks in her house. Interesting set up)
|Fez||The Ruined Garden (so good we went back 3 times) |
Cinema Cafe (sub-par, all tourists and I got a tummy ache after their falafel salad)
-Eat, TakeOut and Market Cafe (stuffed dates were divine!!!)
-Nomad (Food ok, service negligible)
-Ayaso Concept Store (small portions, tasty)
|Tangier||–Pure Food had a full vegan menu!!|
-Rif Kebdani Somehow made a “top vegetarian restaurant” list in Tangier. Um, next.!! The only mentionables are the appetizers and Moroccan Salad. Same 2 options. Couscous/Tajine
-Hamadi – Delicious Indian food!!
If you find yourself in Tangier, you can always take aferry to neighboring Spain. Here’s a guide on what to do in Malaga, and my Vegan Guide to Spain